Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Ya Beauty & The Beast" - December 2009

We don't really do the whole 'panto' thing, but as members of the Tron's Patrons scheme we received tickets to their show - "Ya Beauty & The Beast" - and as we've heard good things about their previous pantos we thought we should give it a chance. And yes, it did feature all the things we hate - groanworthy gags, songsheets and audience participation - but it also has some brilliant asides, a wonderfully knowing theatrical sense of playfulness and excellent performances.

The 'plot' of course is utter tosh, but then that isn't really the point here, and it works perfectly well at sending our heroes on their quest through the 'Pantosphere' to defeat the evil Barfolemew Beastie. But that doesn't mean there's a lack of quality to the script - many of the set piece scenes are beautifully crafted and there is an almost perfect balance between the elements written for the kids and those with the adults in the audience in mind. Waldorf felt there were a few too many intentionally rotten jokes and for me some of the songs dragged on a little. But if that's the only criticisms from two non-panto fans it surely has to go down as a big success.

Andy Clark makes a fine Dame as Bunty Beautox and has an instant rapport with the audience, even this early in December, and despite a script that suggests otherwise Sally Reid is an impressive principal girl, Mary Hill. George Drennan gets all the right responses as our villain (although his wig once back as his human self was much scarier than his Beastie costume) and there are fine performances from the rest of the cast.

The Tron is a fantastic space for panto as its compact nature helps create a real level of noise and atmosphere and the steep raking ensures even small children will have no problems seeing the stage. But there were some disappointed little ones near the back as there was no way the sweeties thrown into the audience were going to reach that far back - hopefully they will realise that as the run continues and throw some from halfway up the aisle.

This is probably as close as we are ever likely to get to loving a 'proper panto' so for those whose Christmas wouldn't be complete without one, this should deliver everything they hope for and more.

Ya Beauty & The Beast runs at the Tron until 3rd January
Image used with permission